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MSPT's Player of the Year wins at Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort

7 May 2018

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Aaron Johnson has been on fire through the first five months of 2018, and it continued at the MSPT’s latest visit to Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort just outside Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

His remarkable run started back in February when he final tabled the MSPT Canterbury Park and finished fourth for $34,183. A month later, he took 32nd in the MSPT Potawatomi, and then followed that up with a runner-up finished in the 2018 MSPT South Dakota State Poker Championship for $39,181.

Toss in a 45th-place finish in the second MSPT Canterbury Park of the season, and Johnson had pulled out to a nice lead in the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 9 Player of the Year race. That doesn’t even take into account the HPT Belterra event back in March.

This past weekend, Johnson navigated a field of 358 entries to take down the MSPT Grand Falls $350 Regional Event for $21,268. It was a long overdue win for Johnson, who prior to it had 22 MSPT Main Event cashes (including five final tables) and five Regional Event cashes.

“It feels amazing. It was soul-crushing to finish runner-up at Deadwood a few weeks ago, but I always try to keep things positive and strive on,” Johnson said after the win. “Lo and behold I ship an MSPT regional two weeks later! Now I just need to get my paws on a Main Event title.”

Johnson also received 467 POY points which extended his lead to 3,142 points. That is well ahead of both Blake Bohn (2,400) and Adam Friedman (2,200), who sit in second and third place respectively.

“Winning POY was a goal of mine for 2018 and so far, things are looking promising,” he said of the race. “However, there are a lot of great players who follow this tour and it’s unlikely to come easy. I just want to control my own destiny and put up as many points as possible.”

Final Table Results
1 Aaron Johnson (Red Wing, MN) $21,268* (original payout $23,975)
2 Matthew Breck (Sioux Falls, SD) $17,500* (original payout $14,793)
3 Derek Dekok (Sioux Falls, SD) $10,730
4 Truman Johnson (Caddo Mills, TX) $7,917
5 David Swanholm (Fargo, ND) $5,938
6 Justin Barnum (Fargo, ND) $4,583
7 Steve Belland (Bagley, MN) $3,542
8 Hung Thai (Sioux Falls, SD) $2,812
9 Travis Gant (Geddes, SD) $2,177
10 Trevis Devericks (Sioux Falls, SD) $1,760

  • Denotes heads-up deal

The tournament was comprised of three starting flights, the first of which attracted 102 runners. Just 17 of them bagged including 1A chip leader Spencer Wilcox with 341,000. On 1B, 112 entrants took to the felt with 21 making it through including Terry Williams and his stack of 275,500 leading the pack.

Meanwhile, Day 1C was the biggest flight with 144 runners, of which 26 bagged and tagged including Tom Sundling and his 251,000 stack out in front. On Day 2, the top 36 players were slated to get paid, and Sundling fell short of making the money. Meanwhile, the other two chip leads cashed with Wilcox finishing in 13th place for $1,406 and Williams in 20th for $1,093.

Others to earn a payday were MSPT Season 3 Meskwaki champ Moon Ahmed (24th - $833), MSPT Season 6 Mahnomen Regional champ Joel Klipping (18th - $1,198), and Travis Gant (9th - $2,177), who in 2017 topped a field of 426 entries to win the inaugural MSPT Grand Falls Regional for $29,782.

After the likes of Steve Belland (7th - $3,542), Truman Johnson (4th - $7,917), and Derek Dekok (3rd - $10,730) all fell at the final table, the title came down to Johnson and local player Matthew Breck.

In the final hand of the tournament, Breck got his stack all in preflop holding the Q?6? against the A?8? of Johnson. The board ran out 4?K?2?2?10? and Breck hit the rail in second place while Johnson got his long-awaited MSPT victory.

“I’ve been hit hard by a wave of massive positive variance, that’s undoubtedly the biggest factor,” Johnson said of his recent heater. “However, I’ve been putting in a ton of work on and off the felt. Lots of studying, regular exercise, trying to eat a healthy diet, striving for a positive mindset. If you prepare properly and put in the work, good things can happen.”

Next up on the Season 9 schedule is the $1,100 buy-in, $300K GTD MSPT FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan from 17-20 May. That tournament is looking to eclipse a $1,000,000 prize pool for the third time in a row. The MSPT will return to Grand Falls Casino 18-26 August for a $1,100 buy-in, $150K GTD Main Event.
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